Cover Letters: Media, Communication, Arts & Entertainment

By: Michael Elias, Media, Communication, Arts & Entertainment Career Community Advisor

The idea of customizing a cover letter to each individual position you apply to can feel like a daunting task, particularly if you want to cast a wide net and apply to multiple roles.

For students with an interest in Media, Communication, Arts & Entertainment, cover letter writing can feel especially tedious when, more often than not, a portfolio or demo reel is also required. Your resume highlights your career history, the portfolio/reel provides concrete evidence of your work, and the cover letter can be a space to fill in any relevant gaps that those materials don’t convey.

Advertising, Public Relations, and Digital Marketing

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Professionals in these industries are going to expect some level of creativity in applicant cover letters, even if you’re not applying for copywriting roles. One of the best ways to do this is by grabbing their attention in your opening paragraph, ideally by telling a story. This story might express your enthusiasm for the specific company, highlight relevant skills, and/or emphasize your passion for a relevant cause.

If you’re stuck, review some of the campaigns that firm or agency has developed. Do any of them inspire you? Does your individual writing style match theirs? Are there specific values evident in these campaigns that align with what you want to convey in your work? Any of these can be a strong starting point to tell a relevant story and make a direct connection to the company.

Arts and Arts Administration

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For students seeking opportunities in graphic, photography, and/or studio arts, your creative portfolio will do much of the heavy lifting. Your cover letter, then, can be used to make a case for how your aesthetic sensibility aligns with the studio you’re applying to, and/or what inspires you about the work being done by that particular artist. Behavioral attributes, such as the ability to provide and receive constructive criticism, are worth mentioning as well, particularly if you can provide an example of how you’ve demonstrated these in the past.

If you’re looking to break into arts administration, your task is two-fold.

  1. Make sure you are speaking to relevant attributes outlined in the job description, which may range from advocacy for the arts to building relationships with patrons to event planning to writing funding proposals.
  2. Genuinely and enthusiastically express your passion for the organization you’re applying to. If it’s a children’s museum, talk about your interest in kid-friendly content; if it’s a gallery that specializes in, say, sculpting, describe your passion for the art form. Additional tips and skills for arts cover letters can be found in this post from BalanceCareers.com.

Entertainment and Production

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The entertainment industry can be broadly defined as anything from film/television to music to sports to digital programming. Whether your interests lie in working with a film festival or a music label, you’ll want to spend some time talking about your passion for the projects being produced by these organizations. If there’s an opening with the Chicago Underground Film Festival, express your passion for experimental cinema. If a music label specializes in punk rock, don’t waste time discussing your interest in other genres like country or opera; be sure you’re relating to their unique specialization.

For production roles, the good news is that you can generally keep these short and sweet. Unless you’re applying for a full-time position, many production jobs are going to be temporary or contract-based, and the people who hire for them generally need talent ASAP. After (briefly) summarizing your skills and expertise, use the cover letter to explicitly outline your dates of availability and other practical requirements, such as access to a car, relevant film equipment, etc. These are competitive positions, but a strong demo reel won’t compensate for your inability to arrive on set at the drop of a hat.

Journalism and Publishing

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For many journalism students, strong writing and the ability to tell a story will come naturally and serve them well in cover letter writing. What you don’t want to do is get too long-winded, which can be a challenge when you’ve been trained to write in a particular way. While hiring managers will definitely want to assess your written communication skills, let your writing samples do the heavy lifting here; keep the cover letter short and to the point. For broadcast students, it’s important to demonstrate that you are a visual storyteller and the various platforms you have experience with. Your reels will communicate many of the skills employers are looking for here, but if your samples only emphasize one broadcast medium (e.g. podcasts), use the cover letter to talk about other relevant production skills (e.g. videos, blogs) and other relevant media you may have experience with.

If your interest is in the publishing industry, you’ll find that many of the same tips for arts administration professionals apply here. Specifically, roles in the publishing field may include editing and writing, but also span everything from sales to marketing to legal to accounting. Make sure that you’re highlighting experiences that are directly related to that individual position. If you have a particular passion for the output of the company (be it a publishing house, literary journal, trade publication, etc.), be sure to talk about this, as well.

Conclusion

The above strategies provide insight into industry-specific cover letter tips, but it’s important to be aware of the appropriate structure and format needed for these documents. If you’re writing your first cover letter (or just need a refresher), this online guide provides a great template. Afterward, stop by the Career Center to take advantage of our drop-in resume and cover letter advising service; we’ll help you to become more prepared and confident to take the next step in the application process.

Communication & Media Degree: Career Possibilities for Every Interest

By: Brittany Wierman, DePaul University communication & media major ‘20

Few things are as frustrating to a communication and media student as being asked the ultimate, inescapable question, “what job are you going to get with your major?” Some students have their career goals cemented, but for those of us who are still unsure of how our major will lead us down the path of success, have no fear—the communication and media program is equipped to prepare you for a career in whatever niche fuels you.

So what exactly does a major in communication and media look like? Michael Elias, career advisor for the College of Communication explains, “the major itself was designed so students could experience classes across the entire curriculum in the College of Communication.” Essentially, students in this major can explore all different types of communication avenues including film, journalism, public relations, advertising, broadcasting and more to discover which field suits them best.

…Michael suggests that students reflect on their personal interests and skills to narrow down possible career paths.

Since the field of communication is so broad, Michael suggests that students reflect on their personal interests and skills to narrow down possible career paths. As a communication and media major, you can consider seeking career paths as a reporter, press agent, communication coordinator, event planner, human resources manager, and even a disc jockey, all depending on what peaks your interest.

The possibilities are expansive, which means taking different courses to help you uncover your interests and choose a concentration is key. Even if you have a hard time choosing just one specialization, don’t fret; at the end of the day the development of good communication skills through this program will benefit you in your future professional life. Michael elaborates, “[communication] is the foundation of how we relate with one another… it’s what makes us who we are, the ability to express ourselves.” In other words, whether you’re in an interpersonal, intercultural, mass media, or professional setting, the ability to communicate effectively is fundamental to your success.

For more information on specific career paths, major advising and career planning, check out these major and career guides, and stop by the Career Center to connect with your career advisor.

DePaul Diaries: Life as a Media & Photography Intern

By: Renee Radzom, DePaul University graduate, former University Internship Program (UIP) assistant

DePaul Diaries is a day-in-the-life blog series written by DePaul students. The series unveils DePaulians’ experiences as interns in their field of choice. Students share their honest thoughts about their experiences, what they learned as an intern and advice for students who are interested in the same field.


Gianna Vitallo, a senior interested in the television industry, challenged herself by taking on three different internships throughout the school year. Gianna had a TV internship with Violet Media where she gained transferable skills. She was then able to use these new skills at her other two internships, which were at CBS’s B96 Morning Radio Show and Gerber + Scarpelli Photography.

“I learned how to make a production go smoothly and also how to appeal to an audience,” Gianna said. “For example, at B96, I always had to end each social media post with a question. They wanted their fans to be able to respond to a post with their own personal experiences.”

All three internships challenged Gianna with hands-on responsibilities. At B96 and Gerber + Scarpelli, she regularly updated the companies’ social media accounts. At B96, she also operated the “Vox Pro” to monitor sound levels and made edits to the show. At Gerber + Scarpelli, Gianna was given the opportunity to assist with wedding shoots.

Additionally, at Violet Media, Gianna participated in mock pitch sessions and presented ideas for television shows, which is a standard practice in the industry. Afterwards, she received feedback on her creativity and presentation skills from an executive producer.

“My favorite part is getting into a rhythm of what I need to do. The start of each internship was hard, but once I knew what I was supposed to do and how I was supposed to do it, I was much more excited,” Gianna explained.

Gianna didn’t just work at her internships – she received credit for all of them. “The first class I took was the UIP: 250 course called You, Your Work, and the World. I would definitely recommend this course. The professor was amazing and I made a great portfolio in that class,” Gianna said. “As a digital cinema major, I am almost always asked for a reel when applying for jobs or internships. This website [portfolio] had them all in one place and it looked very professional.”

After taking the UIP class, Gianna took independent study courses to earn elective credit for the other two internships.

All three of Gianna’s internships were unpaid, but her last internship at Gerber + Scarpelli catapulted into an opportunity to work on a contract basis taking pictures for weddings over the summer. As a result of this year, Gianna has become an internship pro. She’s gained more knowledge on how to search for and apply to jobs, how to impress colleagues through her work ethic, punctuality and creativity, and how to make the most of her experiences. She even learned how to better manage her time by balancing her internship with school, friends, and her job as a desk receptionist at DePaul Housing Services.

When it comes to advice for handling all these responsibilities, Gianna said, “Don’t be afraid to mess up. Learning from your failures is extremely important.”


Want to learn more about DePaul’s University Internship Program? Check it out, here, or send inquiries to UIP@depaul.edu. Need help finding an internship? Visit depaul.joinhandshake.com, or come into DePaul’s Career Center to meet with an advisor.